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Smart thermostats are becoming more popular alternatives to traditional air and heating systems. Are they worth it, though? Read on to find out for yourself.
Current Trends in Smart Thermostat Design
Image via Flickr by Dept of Solar Energy Decathlon
Smart thermostats are controlled by Wi-Fi enabled devices so that you can control the temperature in your home from your smartphone. For example, the Nest thermostat is now onto its third version. These thermostats light up and show the current indoor temperature when it detects that someone is nearby. Some versions also display outside weather and time.
Initial Cost of Equipment
The initial cost of a smart thermostat is fairly low, considering how much you can possibly save verses using a traditional HVAC. Smart thermostats can cost $50 to several hundred dollars, depending on what brand name you go with and the features that come with it. Make sure you do some research to find out what you want and need before you purchase your smart thermostat. Even if you need a repair or service done on your smart thermostat, the savings are still worth the initial cost.
It’s fairly easy to install a smart thermostat, but you can always contact a specialist or electrician to do the work for you. Based on the wires used on your current HVAC, you may or may not be able to install a smart thermostat in your home. If you’re not sure of what type of wires to look for, call in a specialist to help.
Different Types of Thermostats Available
Even though smart thermostats are fairly new, there are several different types available on the market. The Nest thermostats were one of the first smart thermostats available on the market. Installation is pretty easy, and once it’s up and running, the Nest can learn your temperature preferences and plan accordingly. The Ecobee3 is another smart thermostat that uses Wi-Fi capabilities. Energy can be saved with this device since the Ecobee3 can detect where you are and adjust the temperature accordingly.
The Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat comes with a large screen with plenty of options. You can plan out seven days on the Honeywell and even change settings throughout the week. The Sensi Wi-Fi Smart Programmable Thermostat is another user-friendly product that is easy to install. Another Honeywell thermostat is the Z-Wave Programmable Thermostat. You can use it to control lighting and other home appliances, and the Z-Wave monitors your thermostat. Once you choose which smart thermostat is right for you, it will feel natural to walk into your home at the perfect temperature.
Smart thermostats can save money on your energy bill. These thermostats are designed to run only when someone is home, saving unnecessary energy and costs. Because of this, your HVAC won’t have to run constantly. Smart thermostats can save money in the long run on your home due to their many high-tech capabilities.
With so many benefits to having a smart thermostat, it’s worth your time to check them out and see if they’ll suit your lifestyle.
The last decade has seen a surge in energy-efficient products. Everything from insulation to light bulbs delivers promises of moderate savings over the course of the year or the life of the home. While many people have experimented with what’s available, others have sat back and wondered what the actual results of making such upgrades are. The results are in, so take a look.
Seal Up the Envelope of Your Home
Image via Flickr by Swany
Matt Golden, a consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy, says to start with “improving the envelope” of your home. Upgrading items such as windows, weather seals, and insulation are all envelope improvements. You can upgrade an HVAC system, but the upgrade itself won’t stop the issue of heat seeping out of the roof or through cracks in door and window frames.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that sealing air leaks and upgrading your windows can save you between $182 and $440 per year. The saving estimates take into account the cost of the upgrades and any other costs incurred for repairs.
If you can’t go ductless, repair your ducts and make sure they are sealed and properly connected. If you can go ductless, you may be surprised at the energy savings. The idea of central air is a positive point for many homebuyers. People like the fact that they can heat or cool an entire house with ease, but they miss the energy side of that process. Ductless systems have zoned climate control throughout every room of the house. A ductless system allows you to avoid heating or cooling rooms that are not being used as well as setting specific temperatures in different areas of the house if needed.
To allow for more control, look into a programmable thermostat. An “away” feature sets the temperature while you’re not at home, helping you to cut costs further. Programmable thermostats can save you up to 10 percent on your heating bill annually.
Upgrade Your Old Water Heater
Heating water can account for up to 12 percent of your utility bill. Knowing that statistic, upgrading your old water heater makes sense. If you are not able to fully upgrade your water heater, you can also look at areas such as insulating it or turning down its thermostat. You may also want to look into a tankless water heater, which heats the water when you need it rather than gathering it in a tank and heating it from this point. Simply lowering the water temperature alone can save you between 4 and 22 percent of your bill annually.
You can find many other home energy-efficient products when you decide to upgrade. The examples above are only some of the larger problem areas you may find in a home. Other equipment such as Energy Star light bulbs and power strips can add more savings to your budget. Also, don’t forget how useful the sleep or energy save mode on your computer can be. Using as many options as you can will optimize your energy bill savings.
The world moves fast, and you have to move fast if you want to keep up. Keeping up can mean replacing some of your old habits with new ones. One of the easiest steps you can take to make your life easy is to automate your home. While not all home automation devices on the market are worth your money, the four home automation upgrades below prove to be more than just convenient.
Smart Home Security Systems
Image via Flickr by Theron Towbridge
One of the popular home automation upgrades today is the smart home security system. Smart home security systems allow you to remotely monitor your house using your smartphone. Many systems allow you to see who is at the door and choose whether or not to let the person in using your phone. This type of monitoring is not only convenient, but it also adds a much-needed layer of security for you and your family.
Smart thermostats are one of the best investments you can make to automate your home. They offer maximum comfort while also allowing you to save money by setting a schedule for your home heating and cooling. You can program your thermostat to turn off the heating or air conditioning while you’re at work or turn the air conditioning or heating on 10 minutes before you get home from work, thus saving energy and money.
Smart thermostats have much to offer, such as alerting you when something is wrong with your HVAC system. The alert lets you know you need to get your system repaired as soon as possible.
Smart Light Bulbs
Smart light bulbs will take your lighting game to a new level. Instead of boring, white lights, you can have any color lights you want on demand to create the ideal atmosphere for any occasion. Smart light bulbs can be controlled using your phone, and you don’t have to get up to change the ambience of the room. Still not convinced? Consider five reasons to switch your light bulbs.
Smart Coffee Makers
Image via Flickr by Coffee-Channel.com
Finally, consider the humble coffee maker. With a few tweaks and some innovation, we now have smart coffee makers that make your morning routine simpler than you thought possible. Although nothing may completely cure the Monday blues, these coffee makers get close. Smart coffee makers allow you to brew a hot cup of coffee at the press of a button. Using your smartphone, you can get your coffee brewing before you rise out of bed. They also allow you to save money and energy by turning off when not in use or running on a schedule.
Smart devices are making our lives easier at every turn. We can have seemingly limitless power at our fingertips if we allow it. Instead of being scared of change, you can take the time to embrace home automation. Of course, this list is not an exhaustive one for home automation upgrades, but they are ones that are worth the investment.
You can’t see it because it is hidden behind walls, but ductwork is a vital part of your home and one that could be costing you hundreds of dollars a year if it isn’t working properly. It’s hard to know if your ductwork needs attention because the problems aren’t often noticeable or visible, but paying attention to these five signs could help you know if your ductwork needs to be checked.
Image via Flickr by HomeSpot HQ
If you hear rattling, whistling, or humming when your HVAC system is running, it could be a sign the ductwork isn’t working properly. It could be that the HVAC system is creating greater air pressure than the ducts can handle or there could be a leak in the ducts that needs to be repaired. In most cases, noises don’t indicate a major problem, but one that can be corrected with an HVAC tune-up or a relatively simply repair.
Weak Air Flow
Is your system not pumping out enough air? It could be that there is blockage or debris in the ducts that needs to be cleaned out. It could also indicate a tear or crack in the duct that is causing air to leak or the vents could be the wrong size to effectively deliver air. Weak air flow can happen throughout the entire home or in just a few vents. To get an idea of where the problem is located, check the air flow from each vent in the house.
Ideally, your heating and cooling systems should work so that every room in the house is the same temperature. If that isn’t the case, it could be due to blockage or breakage in the ductwork or vents in one area of the house that are the wrong size.
If your home is collecting more dust than usual, it could be a sign that there is debris in your ductwork. This issue can often be solved by simply changing the HVAC air filter, but it could also be a sign that a larger, system-wide filter needs to be installed. Dust and debris in the ductwork can cause the HVAC system to work inefficiently or break down.
Mustiness or higher humidity than normal in your home can signal that the ductwork has cracks or tears that are allowing condensation to form. Pay attention to the humidity level in your home; if it seems to be increasing as the weather stays the same, it’s likely your HVAC system. If condensation isn’t removed and cracks aren’t repaired quickly, it could lead to mold growth in the ductwork.
Paying attention to how your HVAC system is working and how air is moving through your ductwork can alert you to potential issues before they grow into larger and more expensive problems. An HVAC technician can inspect the ducts and make repairs, but only if you are aware to what is going on. Paying attention to the ductwork and keeping up with home maintenance could save you lots of money.
Discovering ants, cockroaches, or other pests around your home may make you feel like a bad housekeeper, but the problem may not be due to a lack of cleanliness or home maintenance. Insects, rodents, and wildlife don’t need an invitation to move in and take up residence; everything and everywhere is fair game. To be specific, dry, warm spots inside your home are especially attractive to house-hunting insects. Part of the job of controlling pests is figuring out how they’re getting inside, and a professional, such as a pest control cockroach infestations, can help you find and fix the weak spots in your home’s defenses. For expert assessment, you should look at these areas:
Windows and Screens
Inspect window screens for tears and holes and look for edges of the screen that may have escaped from the frame. Examine the weather stripping for loose or worn spots and replace if needed.
Daylight and Doors
Look for light around the doors; if you can see it, insects can get through there. Ensure that your doors form a seal when closed by replacing worn door sweeps. Don’t forget to check the door into the garage too.
Gaps in Siding
Siding should meet the edges of the house trim; seal any gaps you find between the points where they should meet. Seal gaps between siding and the foundation as well because gaps at ground-level are entry points.
Foundations and Exterior Walls
Can you see a few inches of the foundation? If not, remove topsoil to expose a few inches or more. Soil that is high enough to meet the exterior walls provides easy access to bugs. Trim shrubs and plants to keep them from touching the exterior.
Inspect dryer vents as well as kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans. Vent dampers should be able to move without obstruction; replace any that are broken.
If you can’t get into the crawl space yourself, have someone do it for you. Check screens over the opening for holes and tears, which may be a point of entry.
Examine TV cables, plumbing, and HVAC passages through the walls and apply a double seal to block insects. Caulk around the exterior entry/exit points, as well as the interior openings.
Consider installing a chimney cap to block larger animals, such as squirrels, raccoons, or birds, from using this large entry point. Because rodents can bring bugs, fleas, and other pests into the home with them, a cap provides extra protection. Be sure to examine the cap for damage on a regular basis.
On the Roof
Inspect fascia, soffits, and roof vents for damage and look closely at the points where rooflines meet. These junctures can be attractive to yellow jackets and wasps. Examine vent screens too.
Whether you want to take back your kitchen from insects infestations or have bigger problems, such as rodents or wildlife, pest control in San Antonio is available through Terminix. Enlist a team of experienced professionals who know where to look and what to look for in helping you determine how pests are getting into your home.
A home loan modification is a financial construction in which an existing mortgage is changed to make it more comfortable for borrowers, ensuring they can continue to make their repayments. Essentially, borrowers ask their lenders, often through a company like Golden State Financial Group, to make changes to the existing loan terms because they are facing some sort of hardship. In so doing, they ensure that they don’t have to go through foreclosure, and the lender ensures they still get their money.
Golden State Financial Group on What Home Loan Modifications Are
These plans are part of the Home Affordable Modification Program, which was developed in February 2009, at the height of the foreclosure crisis. The aim was to ensure people who struggled to make their repayments would be able to come to a more affordable arrangement. The standards have been federally set under this program.
Someone who is struggling to make their home repayments because of hardship can use these programs to avoid foreclosure. Their home loan is restructured by lowering interest rates, extending the loan term, and even writing off some of the principal. The aim is to make sure that what the borrower pays stays below 31% of their gross monthly income.
Qualifying for a Home Loan Modification
Not everybody qualifies for these types of programs. Lenders do have their own in-house modification programs, but if someone applies through the federal arrangements, they must:
Have taken out their mortgage before January 2009. This stops opportunists from taking advantage.
Be the home’s owner-occupant.
Be in negative equity.
Be in significant financial hardship as a result of reduced income, medical bills, increased mortgage repayments, and so on.
Currently make payments towards a mortgage that are more than 31% of their monthly gross income.
Prove they can make the new repayments.
The goal of a home loan modification is to ensure you can repay a loan, not to stop you from having to pay it at all. If you are in such financial distress that you cannot make any repayments, then other solutions will have to be found.
During the application, people need to provide a wealth of information, including:
Proof of gross income.
Proof of assets.
Proof of monthly payments.
Proof of any other outstanding debt and payments made towards that.
Furthermore, applying for a loan modification means writing a financial hardship letter. This letter needs to explain, in a short and concise manner, why the individual is in financial distress and what has caused this. Once all this information has been collected, it must be sent to the lender with a request for loan modification, which they will then review. Asking for the help of a company like Golden State Financial Group is often a good idea, as it means they can check whether all the necessary documentation is present and whether it is offered in the right way. This avoid being rejected and having to start to process again.
As anyone who has worked in the agricultural industry will testify, it’s certainly not a cheap one to operate in. In other words, the potential margins might be high, as you are constantly supplying food to eat, but to get to that level the equipment you need is very expensive.
This is one of the reasons why the best agricultural equipment financing companies are proving to be a popular option for business owners nowadays. In short, they give you an extra option to purchase equipment on, and mean that you don’t have to spend your entire year’s revenue on just one piece of machinery. In fact, it can be split across several years, which opens up umpteen growth opportunities.
As with any financial topic, there is still a lot of misinformation doing the rounds though. This is the reason this guide has been put together, as we take a look at some of the primary myths that exist in relation to buying agricultural equipment on finance.
“You need to put down tax returns and financial statements”
This first myth sounds correct, for the simple reason that most of us know how seriously banks are vetting applicants these days. Once upon a time you could walk into the bank and be pretty much given what you asked for. Now, the economy means that this has changed.
However, when it comes to the hire of agriculture equipment, this isn’t necessarily the case. Sure, if the equipment is particularly expensive (and we’re talking about that which is in excess of $250,000) there probably is a case to hand as much evidence as you can to the bank.
For smaller items, this isn’t always needed though. Specialist lending companies tend to have requirements which are far less strict than high-street banks in this regard.
“You can’t obtain finance because the equipment is too old”
This is something which also tends to be a problem with some banks. Some banks will put an age requirement on equipment, suggesting that it is too old to be eligible for finance.
It’s at this point you need to say to yourself that if you deem the equipment right for your business, you should chase down every avenue to obtain finance for it. In some niche agricultural fields, new models aren’t created all of the time. This means that old equipment is needed, and of course you need finance for it.
At the same time, you might need equipment for a job that you aren’t going to complete too frequently. In these cases, purchasing old equipment obviously makes much better business sense.
“You need to put more collateral for the loan”
This is quite an old-fashioned way of purchasing equipment, but is again one of the methods that some major banks insist upon.
This is another one of the reasons why specialist equipment financing companies tend to be a better option. It’s companies like these which will usually be completely fine with the equipment itself being the collateral, and won’t demand anything else.
Getting your house ready for winter is an annual ritual for most homeowners. Did you know that insulating your attic before winter season hits will help to prevent the occurrence of ice dams? Moreover, tuning up your heating system will prevent you from making emergency repairs that are more expensive in the end.
Here are some important winter maintenance tips that you should know:
Your Heating System
Before you start checking your heating system this winter, you should do some preventative maintenance. Doing so might help you to extend the life of your heating system.
Before winter, you should do the following:
During winter, you should:
Is your insulation ready to protect you from the cold? It is worth taking the time to check the insulation and upgrade it. Make sure that you start weather stripping before the cold season arrives.
Your home’s piping system can be damaged by freezing temperatures. You should check whether your pipes are ready to handle a cold snap and make sure that you take extra precautions if you are going away for the winter. For instance, you could turn off the water supply to prevent damage in your absence.
Safety Measures for Winter
As you prepare for winter, you should heed as many safety measures as possible to avoid problems. Here are some safety measures that will come in handy:
Key Equipment and Supplies
You should stock up on generators and blowers to prevent problems later. According to the owner of Delsea termite & pest control, you should hire an exterminator to get rid of pests before winter season. Moreover, you should have roof rakes and snow shovels at the ready.
Moving things from one area to another can prove to be difficult due to factors such as distance, size, and weight of things, weather, and traffic. However, such important factors are less considered as many people prefer moving things their own way to save money. This is understandable as people already spend a lot of money before the moving process such as, when you spend a lot of money to try and improve the value of your home. In the end, trying to move on your own usually results in spending more and damaging most of the valuables. Below are seven key advantages of hiring a removal company.
Whether it is office furniture or relocating to a new home, the need to move is an added responsibility on top of other things you need to do. You can easily go on with your usual activities of the day and let a house removal company do the moving for you.
There are many risks when moving objects. You can overlook the weight of an object and in an attempt to lift it get injured. Removal companies have staff trained in heavy lifting, thus it is safer. Some things are fragile and need special packing. Removal companies ensure these items get to the destination in the same condition as when they left your home.
Professionalism remains the most important benefit when you choose to hire a removal company. Removal staff are well trained and have vast experience that they use ensuring your prized belongings are handled and moved with care.
More time is spent when you choose to do all the packing yourself. It is even more difficult to get people to help in time as many friends and family can only help in their free time. This causes delays and a last-minute rush. House removal companies have the labour aspect sorted. Packing and moving are efficiently done, saving you the time and effort of doing it alone.
Equipment such as vehicles becomes very important when moving. Many people are forced to borrow vehicles from friends and family. At the end of the day, many prized items are damaged and unwanted losses incurred. Most removal companies like http://www.advanced-removals.co.uk have vehicles suited to transport a variety of items. This guarantees you the safety of your valuables.
Insurance companies easily cover damages sustained to your items when you seek professional help. This is because insurance policies can only validate the damage if the items are packed professionally.
Full service moving companies have their own storage units they use to safeguard your belongings, for instance, when you are forced to move and the place you’re moving to is not yet ready for occupation. These storage units are constructed to hold a wide variety of items safely and effectively.
Other advantages include an underestimating of just how many packing materials you will need, which avoids the need for you to source extra materials at the last minute or make do with less-than-optimal options. Professional movers provide all these things with ease and even use less than you would have used, as they have more experience. Hiring a professional removal company will make your move easier and a stress-free experience.
In the Tampa Bay area, it seems that very few buildings are being constructed. In fact, the last time there were major projects going, many of them for residential properties and hotels, 16 were cancelled. This is true, as well, within the world of commercial office space in the area. Vacancy rates have risen, rental rates have dropped. While this may sound bleak, it is also the news people like Shaun Benderson have been waiting for, because it means there are deals to be made.
Shaun Benderson Thinks Bad News Is Good News
Within the world of economics, when prices drop, demand rises, which leads to prices rising again. It is all a balancing act. In areas such as Phoenix, AZ, vacancy rates are down and rental rates are rising, which means fewer people are able to get into the market. Eventually, this will lead to a reversal of fortune, an that is exactly what has happened in Tampa Bay and Sarasota. And that may be bad news for property owners, it is excellent news for people like Shaun Benderson.
In these types of areas, it is now easier than ever to start a new retail project, for instance. The space is there, and property owners are desperate to find tenants. By taking on one of these properties, which is likely to be at a greatly reduced rate, you could be the scoop that turns things around, because it will get other business owners interested in the lower prices for commercial real estate.
Tampa Bay is one of Shaun’s favorite places in the world, and it is now the perfect place to start a business. Not just that, some 2.7 million people live here and that number has been steadily but rapidly growing over the years. Unemployment and crime rates are reasonably low, which means it is also a good place to raise a family.
The economy is also very strong. There are numerous firms focusing on air and sea electronics that have defense contracts. Additionally, the U.S. Central Command is here, from where the Middle East activities are directed. Additionally, there are four trauma centers and more than 20 hospitals, many of which are developing groundbreaking new treatment and medicine. Tampa Bay is also home to a strong financial sector, as well as having excellent ports and being attractive to tourists.
The downtown area of Tampa Bay is somewhat downtrodden. However, the government is working hard at revitalizing it, placing a focus on the many public landmarks to be found here. In so doing, they are further raising the interest in this city, attracting more businesses to its empty spaces. Add to this the current affordability of these spaces, and it quickly becomes clear why people are snapping up properties in this area. Sarasota, meanwhile, is showing similar signs, a clear indicator that the economy is really picking up again. Whether Phoenix will be first to decline again, or whether it will simply keep up will remain to be seen.